Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On my nightstand

... in a manner of speaking, since this photo was obviously not taken in my bedroom.

Since I haven't been sewing or cardboarding much recently, my nights have been spent reading. And this is the collection of books that I'm simultaneously halfway through. All light reading, and four out of six are extremely funny. Three are by English authors, two are psychological nonfiction, four are about family, two are about cultural angst and one is about food. Very telling. Notice that none of them are sewing, drafting or craft books? And none of them would look good posing with something from Starbucks (or Caribou Coffee, if you're from these parts, not that I drink coffee from either, or at all). Hah. I almost wish one of them were a modern novel, so that I might appear current, hip and edgy. Alas. 

Just to have something to write about, let me tell you about these books. Let's begin at the top of the stack.

I'm reading through my collection of old Enid Blytons with Emily. Sometimes Jenna and Kate listen in. We're now on book #11 of the 15-book Mystery series about five intrepid detective children and their runs-in with the local, somewhat insipid police force. Lots of disguises, great twists and hilarious conversation.

A Tiger in the Kitchen is one of those few books that has been written about Singaporean culture (i.e. food) that has no glossy color photographs of actual food. It's a fun read, given that the author sounds like she's from the same generation as I, and as disintegrated with the Chinese parts of her identity as I, and, living in the US, as desperate to capture the essence of Singaporean cooking as I. I wish she had small children, so I could read about how exhausted she is at the end of each day, and resorting to making pancakes from a Bisquick box for dinner in spite of her best intentions to make a Singaporean meal from scratch.

I love Gerald Durrell!!!!!!!!!!
I am re-reading, for the umpteenth time, his brilliant Corfu trilogy. Oh, how he makes me laugh. And how I wish I were his mother because, unlike me, she never turns a hair at the ridiculous pranks her children get up to. What sort of strong alcoholic drink does she daily imbibe?

I love Adrian Plass!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am not allowing myself to re-read his Sacred Diary trilogy. Instead, I am savoring his hilarious satire of the modern church. It's written as an instruction manual to the layperson wishing to learn the ins and outs of modern churchmanship - reverse psychology at its best, with a bit of red tape thrown in.

Skipping down to the bottom-most book - as my kids get older and more aware of cultural issues and roots and all those other murky aspects of Who I Am, I know the day will come when we will begin some interesting and maybe difficult conversations about identity. As if adolescence weren't thorny enough, our girls will have the additional bits and bobs of belonging to two countries, two cultures, two languages, two lifestyles, two families. They see this delightful marriage of cultures literally in Dave and me, but they are becoming more American each year of their lives and less Singaporean. I feel a little sad that their only experience of Singapore is through the somewhat-skewed eyes and wholly-monolingual tongue of their mother.  They aren't truly third culture kids in the original sense of the phrase, but they will relate to many similar issues in later years, especially if they continue to keep strong ties with their maternal grandparents and their little island in the sun. I hope they do - it will make them amazing, strong, adaptable, confident, interesting young women one day. But it might also make them slightly nuts and that's why I'm reading this book.

Back to the Five Love Languages of Children. I've never read the original version (which was about adults) and the more I meander into parenthood, the more I marvel at the vast amount of frameworks on rearing children. I do believe that, in any major bookstore, just the section on Child Discipline is bigger than the section on sewing stuffed animals. And that's saying something. All this says to me is that children are hard to figure out, but you love them anyway, because you made them. Sort of like a particularly challenging sewing project. Years before I became a mother, I had a mental list of things I would never do. It went like this:
  • No watching Barney
  • No Disney princesses
  • No pink
  • Death to Hello Kitty
  • No candy
  • No fast food
  • No TV that wasn't National Geographic
  • No obsessing about swimming lessons or gymnastics or ballet class or art camp or playdates or other such superficial silliness
  • No meeting up with other narrow-minded mothers who only want to talk about their children's grades, or what sort of friends they want their kids to have, or which teacher was the best in the school. Trivial! Trivial! Trivial! 
and on and on it went.

Funny how actual motherhood changes a person. 

So does that Five Love Languages book make sense or not? You'll have to read it yourself to decide. It isn't the sort of book I'd buy myself - it was given to me, and I have enjoyed reading it. It did make me think of sewing, though, and what the Love Languages of Sewists might be. Here are my Five:

  • Hoarding
  • Sewing
  • Designing
  • Swapping
  • Nutella

Do you get your main kick from coveting and buying delicious fabric and ideas you know not what to do with? Do you love the actual making and learning to make? Do your thrills come from creating new patterns and interpreting old classics? Do you love the sharing, the camaraderie, the mail swaps, the blogging? Or do you just crave nutella (oh, all right, chocolate)? As with all theoretical frameworks, you can swing in more than one direction, but there is usually one (or two) that define(s) you. You all know mine. What's yours?


  1. I liked the one for adults and have the children's one on my nightstand as well. I think i am a hoarder. I don't like to use a fabric if I don't think the project is "special" enough and I have more project to do than done.

  2. This is my first comment on your blog even I have been a follower...

    I'm quite curious about the last 2 books in your pile. Not so sure though what the definition of '3rd culture kids' so looked it up on Wikipedia now understand my 6 yr old twins do fall under this 'title'. :-)

    And I do understand wholly your feelings on kids growing up, in your case, more American than Singaporean. I am in a similar situation with my kids growing up in China while both my husband and me coming from 2 totally different background/country/culture. I try to teach them my native language among others but they never really seem to comprehend things... we've never been able to take them to English or Philippines yet... so I wonder what happens as they are more and more aware of the cultural differences just within our home and outside. Do they become more Chinese than British or Filipino/Chinese?

    Sorry for rambling on...

  3. LOL! 5 languages of Sewists , hmm interesting!

    Win a VOGUE TOTE by participating in Giveaway to Celebrate 200+ followers of Cute Confessions of Sew Addict - Adithis Amma Sews. Click HERE to participate. Thanks

  4. It was nice to get a peek at the books at your nightstand. Very similar to the sort of books that would sit by mine. I'm like you... so totally not a modern novel reader sitting at starbucks kinda person. I love that Gerald Durrell book too! And Tiger in the Kitchen sounds like something I would also enjoy - will pick that one up next. Thanks for sharing.

  5. (Long-time lurker and admirer posting for the first time here, I think...)

    I'm pretty sure I'm a sewer, with a bit of designer and just a hint of hoarder. Or maybe more than a hint. :)

    I didn't know there was a love languages for kids book, I may have to check it out. The adult version was quite good.

  6. I'm reading "Third Culture Kids" right now - I finally purchased it after not finding it in any local libraries! Thank you so much for the recommendation!!!

    As for sewing, I LOVE designing, but am not very good at it. Hopefully I will get better at it, with practice!

  7. I love this! My theoretical nightstand is similarly eclectic (but unfortunately, my "nightstand" is just a laundry basket filled w/ clothes that I'll eventually put away). My sewing language is Hoarding, not so much in the fabric sense, but in the ideas that never get completed.

  8. Have never heard of Plass or Durrell or Blyton! Putting them all on my reading list. 5 Love Languages is an interesting concept that helps us get outside of ourselves in loving other people.

    I am DEFINITELY a hoarder. I see pretty fabric. I want pretty fabric. I have NO idea what to do with pretty fabric. I have guilt : (

  9. My nightstand is equally eclectic, but although I am a huge Gerald Durrell fan, he's currently sitting on the bookshelf lol The BBC has done a couple of really good adaptations of the first book, one a series in the 80s (which we used to watch on Sunday evenings while eating our roast dinner when I was a kid) and another much more recent feature length one-off. Both were good, but I did prefer the series. My favourite bit is the description of the family on the customs form at the end 'One travelling circus and staff' lol

    As for the thrills, for me it's making and learning to make things, closely followed by giving the stuff away to people (or selling, if I'm lucky lol)

  10. @AB
    Ramble on, AB! TCKs are a people group all of their own, I've learned. They have loads more in common with each other, regardless of their original culture, than they have with people of the same culture they are living in.

  11. I love your post and have actually written down a quote from it in my journal - that bit about them being hard to figure out but you love them anyway, because you made them. Just perfect!


  12. Love this post! Have you read Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes series? They're great! Fforde breathes new life into famous fictional characters from literature and nursery rhymes. Might be a good ones to add to your modern fiction (i.e., to look more "current, hip and edgy") list. :)

  13. I want to share my newest Nutella combination. 1 cup plain greek yogurt, 1/2 cup nutella. Mix in completely and dip fresh fruit into it. Or slurp it up with a straw like I do!

  14. I think if I had been drinking something (probably Caribou) it would be coming out my nose about now...

    5 love languages of sewists...hahahahaha!

    I'm so stealing that for my FB page (and crediting you of course...)

  15. Hmmm... I'm not sure that 5 languages are enough. I'd be tempted to add: wearing, giving, modeling, photographing, recycling. Give me a bit of time and I'll probably come up with a few more languages. And here I thought that I was only fluent in English!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these books!

  16. I've been meaning to read the 5 LL for Children but keep forgetting to order it up from the library. I'm off to do it right now! Thanks for the reminder!

  17. You've got me all curious about the book on third culture children. Since I'm Eurasian-Cantonese, and my husband is Hainanese, and we're now living in the US, does that make my kids third culture kids? It's all so confusing. It is hard to help them remember Singaporean culture - my oldest remembers more than my youngest obviously. They were pretty moved by this video of Singapore that I recently showed them... maybe it might trigger reactions from your kids too? It's of the cityscape/heartland and the recent National Day celebrations. Pretty cool...


Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.